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New Sport England Active Lives data shows ongoing impact of covid-19 on activity levels

Press release -

New Sport England Active Lives data shows ongoing impact of covid-19 on activity levels

Approximately 114,000 fewer Londoners meeting Government guidelines for physical activity.

Sport England’s Active Lives Survey (covering the period May 2020 to May 2021) released on Wednesday, highlights the on-going impact COVID-19 has had on Londoners’ physical activity levels.

London has a slightly higher number of active adults, in comparison to the national level. 

The overall number of Londoners’ meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 150 minutes of regular physical activity is slightly higher than the national average at 61.5% in comparison to the national level 60.9%. 

Over the past year London has seen 2.5% fewer adults (approximately 114,000) doing more than 150 minutes or more of physical activity a week compared to 1.9% at a national level.

- Inactive Londoners: 26.7% (1.9m) of Londoners are doing less than an average of 30 minutes of physical activity a week. This is a 1.9% increase in the number of inactive adults compared to the previous 12 months

- Fairly active Londoners: 11.8% (845,000) of Londoners are doing between 30-149 minutes of physical activity a week. This remains at the same level as the previous 12 months.

- Active Londoners: 61.5% (4.44m) of Londoners are doing 150 minutes or more of physical activity a week. This is a 2.5% decrease (approximately 114,000) in the number of active adults compared to the previous 12 months.

The data for London also saw activity levels in the majority of London boroughs remain unchanged when making comparisons in the last 12 months. 

However, the following boroughs have seen a significant decrease in the number of active adults: City of London (-28.3%), Harrow (-15.7%), Havering (-7.6%), Hounslow (-8.0%), Sutton (-8.4%) and Westminster (-11.1%).

In terms of demographics, the results are broadly similar to the last Active Lives results. 

Women, young people aged 16-24, over 75s, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and those from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds are still most negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Encouragingly there is evidence to suggest that from mid-March and as restrictions have eased, we’ve started to see a positive bounce in activity levels.

Commenting on the data, Tim Copley, London Sport Director of Insight, Technology & Data, said:

“London Sport recognises the incredible effort Londoners have made to adapt throughout the year, and the continued efforts made to address inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic

The results indicate Londoners have tried to find creative ways to participate in physical activity and sport during the pandemic. 

"However, multiple lockdowns and significant restrictions have unsurprisingly had a detrimental impact on people’s activity levels, and worryingly there are certain demographics who continue to be disproportionately affected.

"We have seen London's sports charities and activity providers rise to the challenge and adapt to a completely changed environment. 

"However, we know that more needs to be done and that an increased focus on physical activity needs to play a vital role in London’s recovery to improve health and wellbeing in all of our communities.

"We will continue to work with the sector to address these challenges and help find new ways to help people keep active and return to physical activity and sport in a way that is accessible to everyone.”

Announcing the national findings, Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, said:

“This latest Active Lives research paints a stark but unsurprising picture of activity levels throughout England. The decline, which is right across the board, ties in with when coronavirus-related restrictions were introduced and access, opportunity and the capability to exercise were all massively curtailed.

"What is more concerning is that certain groups – those who have historically found it more difficult to access activity – were disproportionately impacted. And we know that once habits are broken, they are often harder to restart.

"It is clear that the benefits of activity don’t just manifest themselves physically; the mental health and wellbeing of people is boosted, communities become more cohesive, and the economic impact creates added value locally and nationally, as well helping individual employment prospects.

"Sport England’s challenge now, working collaboratively with all our stakeholders, is to build on the work we have already started and ensure that sport and physical activity is central to tackling the inequalities in our communities, and create a movement that genuinely delivers for all.”

–Ends –

Notes to editors:

London Sport exists to make London the most physically active city in the world. Supported by Sport England and the Mayor of London, we aim to increase physical activity levels among less active adults, reducing inequalities and inactivity, and give young people opportunities to form a positive physical activity habit for life.

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About London Sport

London Sport aims to make London the most physically active city in the world. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

For more information on London Sport, visit www.londonsport.org

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London Sport aims to make London the most physically active city in the world.

About London Sport

London Sport aims to make London the most physically active city in the world. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

For more information on London Sport, visit www.londonsport.org

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